One of the ‘issues’ with ADHD -both in children and in adults- is medication. Over here there hs been this massive discussion about the increase in prescriptions for ADHD medication and in general there has been very little positive said. The main message I’ve gotten from the media is that ADHD is being overdiagnosed, and it’s just ‘to get drugs’. There has even been a discussion about a conspiracy between pharmaceuticals and professionals to get rich. This negative message has lead to comments around me, from people who ‘don’t believe in ADHD’ to people who think it’s bull to have yourself tested for ADHD because you’ve somehow managed to graduate. For the record: that’s about the only thing I’ve managed. I’ve also had worrisome comments in the line of ‘don’t become your illness’. Also, I’ve had a GP just about laugh at me when I told him I thought I had ADHD. ‘Let me guess, now you want Ritalin?’
Well, actually, at that point I didn’t. I wanted someone to help me learn to manage this mess. My experience with Ritalin and such at that point is that it seemed to ‘change’ people. And besides, I did graduate…
That had been my ‘excuse’ for years. I recognised the symptoms in myself, made jokes about it, but no, I couldn’t have ADHD because I was at uni. I thought I shouldn’t whine, and just get myself together. I already was ‘sick enough’. Didn’t want more attention, in some sense. Mostly, I wanted to be normal. All my life, I wanted to fit in the ordinary world.
At some point, I gave up the struggle. I learned that I had developmental dyspraxia, thanks for NOT telling me, mum and dad. I read an article about ADHD/ADD and dyspraxia often going hand in hand. And I couldn’t make sens out of a rapid depression: I did everything ‘right’. So I had myself tested. The lady who did the testing had one puzzle: why hadn’t anybody noticed before?? Reading the results: ADHD combined type… and seeing a summary of how many areas of my life was negatively influenced by it was heartbreaking. Colleagues at both my jobs post graduation diagnosed me without me telling them.
I started taking Ritalin at first. I was a bit curious about the effect, didn’t expect much. I was amazed to find myself hanging on my sofa, playing with my new iPhone for an afternoon. It took some time to get the dose right. The right dose for me doesn’t turn me into someone different. I don’t become a zombie, but I do take extra meds if I have to sit through lectures these days, else I’ll just go nuts. I still have ADHD, the meds just take the edge off and help me to get more out of myself and my life. I hate having to take them. Lifestyle changes are just as important as meds, it’s not a miracle cure… but it helps me so much. I try not to think about how much better my life would have been had I been tested at age 6-7. I showed signs of ADHD at age 3.
Since starting methylphenidate
- My social life has improved. I couldn’t understand why I was so lonely before, why almost all my social relationships somehow crashed and burned. Inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsiveness….
- I’ve been able to do my work better, and I get to keep my job.
- I find it easier to get things done
- I’m less impulsive, I literally have that split second to think. Under normal circumstances that is.
- I don’t have to literally build myself into my bed so I can’t move to sit still long enough to do some studying.
- I can actually do something with my millions of great ideas… and the not-so-great ones too.
- Wow. Is this how normal people’s heads feel? It’s such a bliss not to have a tornado going on in your head at all times.
- I can focus better. Such fun to be able to follow the entire movie instead of having to fill in the blanks as you go along…
- I am more relaxed because the world is less overwhelming. I can only describe how it feels like off meds now that I know how it feels to not have to experience that: imagine being in a TV store full of big-screen TV’s and they’re all on different channels, including sound.
- Whadya know. Turns out I CAN play ball games. Probably still not the most ideal person for fielding in cricket, but I’ve done better than ever (not that that’s any good really) at things with a racket. I usually did very poorly in gym class, except for gymnastics. And rugby. See, it’s easier to follow a game of rugby because you’ve got more space and it progresses at just the right pace. The problem was inattentiveness: ball, bird, plane… hey where did she get those shoes… ouch… ball just hit my head.
- I no longer need to drown myself in music at almost all times. Music still is really beneficial to me and helps to keep me calm, but a train trip isn’t unbearable without music anymore. I can now read magazines. Which I’ll be doing, because I’ve lost my iPod nano.
- I’ve been able to maintain stability in terms of my eating issues. Starving myself was my self-medication. The side effects were pretty bad. I know they say methylphenidate is contra-indicated in anorexics specifically, but for me it has had a immense positive effect on it.
I mean, I still need to take care of myself in so many different ways. It’s not a cure-it-all and some things will always be difficult (housekeeping, anyone?) but it does HELP me.
I still need to manage ADHD
Don’t get me started about people who DO want the label for the drugs, for an excuse (ADHD sounds better than Borderline, somehow?) and to get attention, or the parents who want a ‘label’ on their kids because they aren’t wonderbabies…. or because the parents can’t raise their otherwise very normal kids. I want to punch all of these people. They do exist. But those who DO have real ADHD/ADD need help, positivity and often medication. I view ADHD as a brain problem, not a character problem. You wouldn’t deny someone without a foot their prosthetic and physio now would you?